And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues. 1 Cor.12:28
The church is like an itch I keep scratching at, which is sorta sad but there you go! Because I read my bible & in my own muddly way I try, you know ~ to do what it says; to obey God's commands; to grow up in Christ. And every which way I turn the church, on the whole, is a stumbling block & it is driving me crazy.
I am not going to rant about Christmas ~ which is extremely rantable ~ nope, not even the whole put Christ back in Christmas thing 'cause in all honesty I don't think Christ was ever in it ~ which is a long, complicated historical unravelling of the symbols & pagan origins of just about the whole lot! And it was the church, yep, the church that designed & fed us the whole unholy mess!
But that is where you end up when you start ditching God's design for things because God put something in place to prevent these very things. Indeed He did. The church was designed to be built on a firm foundation. First apostles ~ the sent ones. Call them missionaries if you like, though that term has broadened to mean more than simply proclaiming the gospel to people. Secondly, prophets. Apostles & prophets, the twin watch towers of the early church.
Now unless you belong to a Charismatic, Apolistic or Pentecostal church your church probably doesn't have an operating prophet ~ & even if you do the chances are they're not operating as a prophet, merely exercising a prophetic gift. 'Cause, the thing is, don'tcha know, that the prophets aren't comfortable people to have around. They have a thing about the status quo. They pinged Israel off so bad Israel demanded: Stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel! [Isaiah30:10]
And there you have it. To the best of my understanding a prophet's job is to confront people with the Holy One of Israel. When that happens you get the exhortation, the strengthening, the encouragement, comfort, warning & judgment because instead of comparing themselves to the world or to each other, people see how far they fall short of the glory of God. Prophets are like the scout on point, so far ahead of the main party if they start bleating you wanna start paying attention.
So where are the prophets? There's lots of people round these days calling themselves prophets [& don't you just love the irony?!] but all too often what I'm hearing is a lot of feel good blather. Now God may be saying all sorts of stuff. What would I know? Some of it I agree with. We are bringing judgement down upon our heads & we seem totally unaware of it. Yes, there's a harvest for the having [but where are the workers?]. Yep, God is calling a remnant out ~ BUT....first things first. What is the point? That there be a holy, sanctified, righteous people wholly dedicated to their God, a fitting bride for His son.
We cannot compromise. We cannot say, as we have been for far too long, God understands; we're living in the Age of grace. So He does & so we are but that is not licence for unrighteousness or things that displease our Lord. We are called out to be set apart, dedicated, different [how many ways can I say it?] because God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, forever. His standards have not changed.
I think that message is as about as popular as ever! Because people haven't changed. We want our cake & to eat it too. We think a little sin will go unnoticed, not understanding a little pollutes the whole. We like to be liked. We are designed to be social so we crave to fit in. It is far more comfortable!
Well I have news for you! God doesn't care about our comfort. God cares far more about our characters than we do. He's not interested in how well you know your scriptures. Your catechism. Your hymns & psalms. How well do you know Him? How closely are you following after Him? Have you picked up your cross?
And here's the cruncher. I just love this because the Israelites were all for getting Moses between themselves & God. Go talk to Him for us, they begged ~ & Moses did. And when he came down off the mountain after talking with God he had to hide his face with a veil because so much glory shone forth! When was the last time you had to wear a veil so you didn't dazzle people with the glory of God resting on you? Yeah, me too. I'm working on it.
The trap is either people say, well our righteousness is in Christ ~ which it is, but they use that as an excuse not to do anything themselves. Or, they try doing everything in their own strength & fall into the pit of *works.* Neither will suffice. Moses spent Time with God. This is the key. If we do this one thing all else falls into place.
In my study this morning I came across this: The word know is used differently in the bible but we keep translating it the same when it does not always mean the same thing. We all know Psalm 46:10
~ Be still & know that I am God.
Here the word know is talking of experiential knowledge ~ & this is the thing we've most been taught to distrust in the west thanks to the reformers who have put so much emphasis on holding on by faith. There is a time & a place for that ~ but it is not the whole story. It is much easier to hold on with faith when you know the one in whom you have put your trust!
Likewise it is much easier to be holy, righteous, different when we know God. Really know Him. In all His aspects. As Love, & majesty, as wrath & judgement, as Creator & as Lord & King. And when Christ returns may He find us a people prepared, who have cleansed themselves & practised the art of holiness that we might serve as priests forever of our Lord & our God.